In this modern day, a lot of our prized possessions lie in the digital world. From the photos we take of our cherished experiences to the website domain for our businesses, from our social media accounts to the emails we use to stay in contact with friends and colleagues, we all have a vast amount of assets stored in a non-physical space. If something were to happen to you, your estate plan probably addresses your home, finances, and physical assets—but what about your digital estate? Where are your passwords stored? What about the photos you keep in the cloud? The law treats your digital property the same as actual property, which means your loved ones wouldn’t have direct access if you were to pass away…unless you have a digital estate plan.
Here are 5 tips to make sure your digital assets are addressed in your estate plan:
Make a list of all your online banking accounts, websites, and social media accounts, and directions on how to access them. Include not only passwords, but also special login keywords and codes. For instance, many accounts ask for answers to security questions. Include accounts like your Amazon/shopping accounts, credit cards, iCloud or personal servers, and, of course, banking information. Think about which bills that you pay online, and make sure you include access to those accounts. Finally, make sure to include passcodes for your physical devices, like laptops, computers, phones, tablets, e-readers, etc.
Decide what you want to do with your digital assets. Just like a regular will where you state which of your properties goes to which beneficiaries, you have to think about the same for your digital assets. You will want to make sure it’s clear how you want each asset to be handled. Will the computers be donated or given away? Will your online accounts be closed down, or kept open in memorandum? Do you want your family members to take over your social media accounts?
Name a digital executor. Name someone who will become your digital executor, who will be responsible for carrying out your wishes on your behalf. You can name someone you trust, or find an attorney to do this.
Make your digital estate plan a part of your will. Don’t include the entire digital estate plan in the will, as the will becomes a public document when you die so all your secure info will be public. Instead, name a digital executor in the will and the location of the digital estate plan, so the executor will know where to find it.
Put your plan in a safe place. You can store your digital plan with an attorney, find an online program to keep it secure, or even lock it up in a safe. When the time comes, your digital executor will be able to access it to carry out your wishes.
Just like the way you ensure your physical assets are protected after you die, you also want to make sure your digital assets are protected, as well. In this day and age, everyone has a digital footprint filled with valuable memories, work, or business information. If you don’t name a digital executor, companies like Google and Facebook will terminate or lock your accounts. Your online assets would be lost forever if no one is given access. Don’t let that happen to you! Contact the Deliberato Law Center and one of our estate planning attorneys will help you create a digital estate plan!